Header Image

Header Image

Saturday, January 19, 2013

DIY Custom Doorway Cornice

Keeping with the theme of going custom trim crazy, our latest project was to create a custom cornice for our front door.  The updated look is fabulous, pretty easy to do and comes in at a whopping $20! :)

Time: 3 hours
Cost: Wood $20
Retail Cost: $120 and up (not including installation)
Difficulty: Easy

Of course you do need to already have a few things to keep the cost low:

Tools Needed:
Air Brad Nailer speeds the job up immensly
Stud Finder
Miter Saw/Box
Pry bar, chisel, or flat head screwdriver (not best choice due to possible wall damage)
Box cutter

 Here is the pretty blah-looking before shot:

First step is to remove the top piece of the door casing, unfortunately were missing a few pictures here but have found some on the internet that reflect this exact step.

Use the level to mark the cut line that your cornice will sit on. This mark should be level with the BOTTOM EDGE of the top piece of casing

Use a box cutter to cut the paint/caulking around the top piece of door molding. This makes it easier to remove.

Use a reciprocating saw or hand saw to cut off the top pieces of the side door casing to create a flat, even line.

OK, back to reality...

The piece is made up of four pieces of wood

(1) 1x4 pine
(1) Brick Molding

(1) Base Cap Molding
(1) Crown Molding 3-5/8"

Assembled view...

These pieces are held together with wood glue, and once the glue dries secure all pieces with brad nails or countersunk finishing nails, EXCEPT for the crown, which should be secure with only glue, unless you have a Pin Nailer as well.

With our 36" entry door, each piece of molding (with the exception of the crown) was cut to 41" to match the width of the door and side casing.

Sand the edges smooth, most easily done with an electric palm sander.

Then cut the crown molding to size, the bottom edge of the crown needs to be a 1/2" longer than the other pieces. There are special techniques to cutting these, but essentially two main tips for making outside cornered crown are :

1) Always cut the molding upside down on the saw (meaning the top of the crown will be touching the plate of your miter box/saw)

2) Always make your angled cut in the opposite direction of the side your cutting. If your cutting the left side of the crown, when it is flipped upside down, your angle needs to lean to the right.

Then when cutting the return piece that reaches to the wall, cut in the SAME direction as the side it needs to be on, so when cutting a piece for the left side of the crown return, your angle needs to the lean to the left.

If youre new to this, buy some extra pieces to experiment with.

With a helper place on top of the door to check for final fitment and nail into the door's header studs

caulk and paint.

Love it! Feel free to reach out with any questions, next up...DIY Interior Transom Window!!!


  1. Looks nice! I would have NEVER thought to do something like that!!

    I LOVED your tray ceiling, too!

    My DH told me to quit reading your blog!! LOL


    1. Lololol, I hope you told him, no way! :-)

  2. Its amazing what a difference that small change makes in the doorway. Now I have yet another thing to add to my ridiculously long list of upgrades!!

  3. You guys are killing me! Now you are actually doing the things I was going to do a long time ago, but still have not done. Good for you!

    I have a different idea about how to spiff up the interior doors without pulling off the existing trim. (Because = lazy) We'll see how it all goes. Ditto on framing the big square mirrors. I'm going to trim them out so it doesn't require miter cut corners. (See: because = lazy, above)

    You guys are doing fantastic work!

    1. Thanks Tammi! You can definitely make the job easier and go for more of a craftsman look where all corners are square and dont require mitering. We're also going to tackle the mirror framing as well in the master and add a mirror high shelving unit in the center of the two sinks, its a high-end feature that will look amazing and probably run about $75 total! Good luck!

  4. Thanks everyone! We're having loads of fun making our house a home and adding customized features ourselves and saving thousands! We still have a ton of projects on the way so stay tuned!

  5. Keep it coming...this looks so great.

  6. You guys are OFF THE CHAIN!!

    Can I just buy this from the store? LOL

    I am serious...otherwise, I need to print these instructions and put on my hunny-do LIST!!

    This would definitely complete the look in our foyer!!

    1. Thanks! Yes you should be able to buy these pre-made in pvc or wood, you need to be very careful about the width though, 41" will work. I found this place that makes custom ones, they range from $112-$160. http://www.vintagewoodworks.com/cornice-item.html

    2. Ohh YAY! this is awesome!! I love the price range too!

  7. I totally went to home depot this morning to get all the supplies for this. I've never cut a piece of wood in my life, but I think I can manage this!

    1. You go girl! Definitely reach out if you hit a snag.

  8. You guys are awesome, We are printing this out for our to do list once our house is finished. I've always wanted to try crown-moulding but never sum up the courage because of the coners. This tip would help. Good tips, great job. Thank you guys.

    1. Thank you! Yes the crown is the worst, like torture. We went through a bunch of wood before getting into the right habits. Definitely get a little extra :)

  9. Yay! We're so happy that people are finding this stuff useful, we're just obsessed with customizing and saving money in the process. Lots more cool stuff on the way! Thank you!

  10. I'm so glad you posted this. I absolutely HATE my door and they would not negotiate me changing it. This definitely gives it a new look...I will definitely be looking into something like this...

    1. Yay! It doesnt even need to be as many pieces as this one. A simple 1x4 flat pieces and some crown will make a huge difference.